When it comes to down to where to live in France – you have a diverse choice of locations. Each area of France is different, the sunny south versus the verdant north, mountains versus seaside, country versus city. So it can be really hard to narrow down where to look for your dream property. “The stereotype is for people buying stone houses with lots of land in the countryside” says Patrick Joseph of My-French-House, “but not everyone wants to be in a small village or to drive 20 minutes to get a loaf of bread…”
Pros and cons of city versus country life in France
Rural life is certainly suitable for many people. Tranquil villages miles from anywhere with big gardens. A slower pace of life, and maybe a weekly delivery service for basics like bread and groceries in the absence of shops. Houses tend to be older in the countryside, than in towns and cities so check for energy rating, an increasingly important aspect of life with rising energy costs. You’ll also need to rely more heavily on a car in the countryside as generally public transport isn’t great in rural areas.
If you don’t need to use public transport and don’t need to be near town or city facilities – country life is idyllic.
But if you have kids, especially teens, town and city life might be a more desirable option so that they have access to facilities that aren’t in small villages. Be aware that you may need to drive many miles to reach a decent-sized shopping centre, and several miles to reach a boulangerie or pharmacy.
If you don’t want to drive too far to the shops, want access to cultural venues, cinema, theatres, museums and galleries, want to be able to get home easily after a night out, rely on, or want access to, public transport, and would like everything on your doorstep – then look at moving to a town or city. If you seek employment, it’s usually easier to find jobs in bigger cities, and generally speaking, you have better internet for working from home. Students and professionals will find life in larger towns and cities suits more needs and wants.
Where’s best for city life in France?
Some of the best and most popular areas for city life include Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lyon, Rouen, Montpellier and Cannes. All of them offer a city lifestyle that includes café culture, cultural venues, great transport that links and yet offer easy access to the countryside. Bigger towns and cities are also the first choice for students and academic professionals who work there. “Older buyers usually prefer to be in bigger towns where they can be close to medical services and in some cases hospitals” says Patrick. “And some don’t want to go without their Starbucks coffee fix (and even McDo!)… ”
Paris is perhaps the most popular city of all when it comes to wanting a fabulous city lifestyle. With its rich culture, superb work opportunities, world-class universities and the ultimate café lifestyle, it’s an ever popular destination for expats. Each arrondissement (district) of Paris is unique and there’s a wide range of accommodation from the coveted Haussmannian apartments (think Emily in Paris), medieval buildings in the Marais district to contemporary builds in many of the outer neighbourhoods.
Find your dream property in France
But how do you know which is best for you when there’s such a fabulous choice of places to live whether town or country – or in between. We advise you talk to the professionals, companies that have people on the ground who know the market in each area whether country of town, know what sort of properties are available, know when something new comes onto the market, and can be your ears and eyes. Patrick advises “We can help you fine tune your wish list, work out where is best for you, and what sort of property suits your dreams. We work with agents all over France including Paris, major cities and towns and countryside. Their local knowledge means we can help you find exactly what you’re looking for in areas that suit your needs and desires. We can create a custom portfolio with you, set up alerts for new properties that suit your search criteria and provide extra images.”
Find out more at my-french-house.com winner of the 2022 European Property Awards for Best Real Estate Agency.